It used to be that event planners spent months organizing “the big event.” Businesses did only one or two of these events a year due to the Herculean efforts required to organize and accommodate hundreds, if not thousands, of attendees.

Those big events aren’t going away, but what’s happening is a rise in more frequent, yet smaller, events. Small businesses today now host 13 to 14 events per year, on average. How is this possible?

Thanks to innovations in event management technology and social media, event planners can host more events without having to pull all-nighters or spend months pouring over logistics.

To help you cut through all the options and marketing lingo, we’ll look at the three types of tech tools that make event planning easier, and what you should look for before investing in them.

Online event management solutions

It’s not unheard of to use a variety of online and offline tools to organize event invitations, registrations, payments and promotions. You may have one person update the registration spreadsheet while another puts the word out on Facebook and Twitter, and a third oversees the budget and payment process.

Subject matter experts are critical to getting the job done, but consider streamlining these functions by using a comprehensive online event management tool. There are many options. At a minimum, you’ll want these features:

  • A dashboard to set up the event and easily customize the marketing materials with your company and/or event logo.
  • Integration with your email marketing list for invitations and event updates.
  • The ability to use social sharing tools to build buzz on social media networks as well as track followers, fans and online conversations about the event.
  • Event registration functionality that allows you to personalize invitations, track responses and avoid version-control issues that tend to plague spreadsheets.
  • Online payment that syncs with registrations.
  • Analytical tools so you can run pre- and post-event surveys to better understand the needs of your attendees.

Mobile apps

There’s no shortage of mobile apps, yet when it comes to event management, you want to download an app that does this:

  • Integrates with your existing event management tools so you’re always looking at the most current information.
  • Accommodates on-site registrations, including payments, so attendees can check in without waiting in long lines.
  • Lets users opt in to receive text messages during the event so they can be alerted to schedule changes, breaking news or other important activities.

Virtual event hosting

The latest online event hosting tools don’t cost a fortune nor do you need to be a tech whiz to master them. Look for this:

  • The ability to record live events, especially webinars, so you can post them on your website for others to view later.
  • Instant messaging capabilities to address questions from your live audience.
  • Integration of conference lines with Skype to address the various ways your audience is going to attend the event.
  • Analytic capabilities so you’ll know how attendees interact with the content.

With all of these innovations making event management easier, there may be a nagging feeling that they’ll eliminate the need for event planners. Nothing could be further from the truth. The tools are simply a means to give you more time to focus on event strategy, engaging customers and growing the business.